Pick of the Week
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In this, the newest issue of Justice League of America, Dwayne McDuffie asks the questions that a lot of us have had since Wally West was brought back from seeming death (really the future) in the pages of this very book.
The story begins with The Flash stopping a raging forest fire with a tactic that has some unforeseen consequences that put some firefighters in danger. His ass is saved by Wonder Woman and the two go off to have a chat. Just like a lot of the current (or former) readers of The Flash, Wonder Woman wants to know just what the hell is up with The Flash since he came back. He’s been acting all weird. He, of course, cites the kids and the disorientation of coming back from the future. Wonder Woman then verbally bitch slaps The Flash (but gently, because she is Wonder Woman, afterall) telling him that he is shirking his responsibilities and acting in ways very unbecoming a hero of his stature. He ignored a JLA distress call from Superman for pete’s sake! The conversation between the two felt very cathartic for not only the characters, but for me as well. The Flash has been odd since he’s been back and I’m glad that someone is finally acknowledging it. Also, Wonder Woman recounting Batman’s contribution to the JLA internal discussion about The Flash had me laughing out loud.
The story then shifts gears to Wonder Woman and The Flash running (heh) off to fight H.I.V.E. and after all the crime busting is said and done, The Flash realizes that he not only has responsibilities to his family, but also to the League, his friends, and to the people he has sworn to protect.
I’d like to, if I can for a moment, give it up to Dwayne McDuffie. First of all, he has, with this story, taken a giant step towards the redemption of Wally West in my eyes. He has always been a character that I liked a lot (even though Barry will always be my favorite Flash) and he has become almost a non-entity in my eyes for the last few years. It’s been really sad. I can’t even remember the last story featuring Wally West that I really enjoyed. I’d have to go back to Infinite Crisis. This one, I really enjoyed. This felt like Wally West was finally back.
And now I’ll circle back around to Dwayne McDuffie. This was the kind of issue I was hoping for when he came on board as writer. As someone who so obviously knows the spirit of these characters so well form his days on the Justice League cartoon, you’d hope for these kind of character exploring issues from a guy like that. Because of editorial dictates or crossovers or whatever, McDuffie hasn’t been able to gain any traction on this book. I am hopeful – so damn hopeful – that this is a first step. I know that Final Crisis looms large on the horizon (eee!) but McDuffie is the solo writer on at least the next two issues (if DC’s solicits and be believed, and you never know with those things) so my fingers are crossed. Justice League of America is a book that has felt very uneven since it was relaunched by Brad Meltzer and I just want, more than anything, for it to get back on track again. I have no doubt that McDuffie is the man to do it, the only question is – will he be allowed to?
If strong characterization and clever action aren’t enough to convince you to go out and grab this book let’s talk about the art. Ethan Van Sciver may not be fast enough to put out a monthly book but I’ll be damned if his art isn’t worth the wait. Anyone who read the Sinestro Corps War storyline over in Green Lantern knows what I’m talking about here. He excels at drawing big action packed pages, of which there are a lot here, and he handles character moments well too. He really is one of the top guys working today. It’s just too bad that, like most of the other top guys, we can’t get more work out of them. I would love it if he could somehow be cajoled into being the regular artist on Justice League of America. I’d even be okay with the book coming out every six weeks. That is how much I’d want Van Sciver over the return of Ed Benes (which is coming!).
I’m not going to go so far as to say that Justice League is back. One issue does not right the ship. But I’m hoping that this is a big first step. Because we all know that a journey of 1,000 miles yadda yadda one step. If you’ve been yearning for some good Justice League action I’d urge you to go out and pick this one up. It’s written in such a way that you don’t have to have any back story – everything you need to know is in the pages of the book. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s funny and the art is spectacular. At the end of the day, that’s what we want from comics, is it not?
He’s slower, but we can count on him to show up.
Did you read Justice League of America #20? Add a comment and tell everyone what you think!